And welcome to yet another edition of this Christmas Series. And, as always, I am introducing you to another Christmas themed book and another author that may be new to you! I have author Ann Brodeur on the blog sharing about her Christmas novel, Snowbound in Winterberry!
I connected with Ann through one of the Facebook Author Groups we are both a part of. I just love how, as authors, we can connect and network across the miles through this wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) thing known as “technology” 🙂
So, without further ado…here’s Ann…
Welcome to my blog, Ann! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?
My novel isn’t your ordinary Christmas romance novel. There’s a bit of mystery, a hint of a political scandal, a second chance romance and a cast of characters that had a whole bunch of colour to the central romance. The story takes place in a fictional mountain town in Vermont, where Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of all.
The last person reporter Stephanie Clark expected to rescue her from a winter storm was the best friend who abandoned her twelve years prior. Editor-in-Chief Jason Miller regrets everything about walking away from the story that would have defined his career, but ruin Stephanie’s family. In a holiday season full of surprises, will they fight for truth and risk losing everything, or learn to have faith again and trust God’s perfect plan, despite their circumstances?
Interesting…I love a book that has many threads…mystery, political scandal, Christmas, romance…it seems to have so much! Where did you find your inspiration for Snowbound in Winterberry Falls?
Believe it or not, the seed for the story came from a Facebook Post. The post was about a Christmas resort somewhere in New England that is open year-round. Clicking on the link took me on a rabbit trail and I found another link to a month-long Christmas celebration in Vermont. The town is Middlebury, and they have a festival from November 30 to December 31st called Merry Middlebury. My mind started spinning and asking those “what if” questions. That’s how Snowbound in Winterberry Falls started.
Inspiration truly can come from anywhere, doesn’t it? Especially for the creative mind!
Did you always what to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?
I recently found my diary I’d kept as a ten year old. There’s an entry in the month of November where I’d written that someday I wanted to be a famous Christian author so I could tell someone about the Lord. I think it’s safe to say, I’ve always wanted to be one.
Fascinating! Do you remember when you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It was when I was ten. Throughout high school I participated in the school newspaper and in editing the school’s literary magazine. In college I wrote program notes for the local symphony orchestra and then when I started working in non-profit, I wrote grant proposals. So writing has always been a big part of my life.
Wow! And you have it all commemorated in your diary from your ten-year-old self. How sweet 🙂
Now, as much as we love what we do, there is always something we’d rather “pass” on in the realm of writing. What is it for you? What part of the writing process do you dread?
I dread writing the opening scene. There’s pressure to get it just right, to start at the right point in the story and to pull your readers into your story world right away. Once I’ve settled in my mind that it’s the right spot to start, the pressure is off and I can write without restraint.
I get that. It is rather intimidating!
I never miss a chance to ask other authors…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
Just soak in all the knowledge you can. I learnt a lot about novel writing from reading blogs (like Seekerville, Writer’s Digest), reading books about the craft of writing (Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, The Story Equation by Susan May Warren, and Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes) and from taking a ton of online webinars. What has been great is connecting with other writers. The community is small, and the inspirational fiction community is even smaller. But you know what? Everyone is there to help each other. I’ve been totally floored by the people who have helped me or encouraged me – big writers KNOW MY NAME! But most of all, be willing to take the criticism and learn from it. If you can’t take it, it will be a very long, difficult and frustrating road.
Such great advice! I second all of that as great avenues for learning. Some authors really struggle with criticism and, I understand that it can be difficult to take, but I think critical eyes on our work only makes it stronger. That’s the editor/agent/publisher’s goal. Not to tear us down.
You mentioned that you read a bit about the craft of writing. I’m sure you read other authors, too. What are you currently reading?
I am reading Debbie Macomber’s Jingle All the Way, a few Harlequin Heartwarming novels (for research – I’m targeting this line next), Davis Bunn’s Burden of Proof, and there are a few others (historical inspirational fiction) that have bookmarks and are sitting in various rooms around the house waiting for me to finish reading them.
I’ve heard fabulous things about Davis Bunn. Maybe now is the time for me to actually pick up one of his.
When I write, I definitely have to set the mood…that always involves music suited to the story I’m writing. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
I cannot play music and write at the same time. I’m a classically trained musician. As such, I learned how to tune everything out except the music when I would practice. I haven’t unlearnt that, and when music is playing I listen to the different voices, the different harmonies and instrumentations…so it’s more of a distraction than a help.
Fair enough. What about setting the scene for you? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
I’d prefer to write first thing in the morning, but we have a young family so that’s not possible at the moment. I squeeze it in when I can – usually right after lunch for about an hour or two if I’m not on deadline or working on my social media platform (which can suck a lot of my time). I wrote most of SNOWBOUND at our local library. I’d drop off the kids at church club and then head to the branch down the street. I had a solid hour and fifteen to write and I think that made a big difference. I didn’t connect to the internet – it was just pure writing time. With COVID closing things up, I really miss my library writing sprints.
One question I find I get a lot is about how long it takes me to complete a manuscript. So, I like to turn that question on those I interview… How long does it take you to write a book?
This really depends on what’s going on in our family since we have a preschooler and elementary aged children at home. I think though, I’ve been able to draft a novel in 2-3 months after spending a month working on character sketches so I know my characters inside out before even starting. Writing the draft is the quick part for me. All the self-editing takes the most time. I like to do two times through – first catching the big picture stuff and then the second time to fill in spaces, beef up scenes, change words, etc. This usually takes me around three to four months.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
My favourite character in the whole book is Mrs. Sweeney. She’s the retired elementary school teacher who has a bit of Christmas mischief up her sleeve. She’s a product of the best of some godly women I’ve known who have since gone home to be with the Lord. I’ve spent time volunteering in retirement homes and I just love seniors. And the fact they don’t have filters sometimes. I have plans to eventually write her second chance romance. It’s all in my head right now, so we’ll see what happens with it.
I know what you mean…there are members in my family that have definitely reached that age 🙂
Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I have a couple of projects on the go. I’ve joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and am working on a contemporary sweet romance. It’s about a French Canadian guy falling in love with an English Canadian gal and it’s set in a fictional English town on the gorgeous Gaspesie peninsula in Quebec, Canada. If you haven’t been there, you MUST plan a trip when the borders open up (or you can view photos on the Gaspe visitor website).
I’ve also been sketching an historical inspirational fiction (not really sure a romance will happen in this one). I have a four book series sketched out covering Canadian events from 1900-1927 which were very interesting times north of the border. Again, both projects are in planning or first draft stages and one never knows where they will go.
I have only been to Calgary and Banff as far as my trips to Canada. I guess I will have to plan another 🙂 But I am glad to hear you are participating in NaNoWriMo! I am juggling too much right now myself to fit it in 🙁
Thanks again, Ann, for being on the blog and sharing with us. I am looking forward to hearing more from you!
Snowbound in Winterberry Falls
Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last-minute vacation road trip to focus and seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget.
Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge.
When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper—and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance—cost her everything she’s ever wanted?
Enjoy an Excerpt
The man was insufferable.
This was the last time Jason Miller would ever use her for a story. She was done with him and done with this crummy place. She had a life in Washington and all she had to do was get there. Somehow.
“I’m sorry about your car, but I can…”
“Save it, Jason.” Her tone trembled with fury and she glared at him. “If you had really wanted to help me, you wouldn’t have forgotten to tell me I was stuck here in Santa Land indefinitely.” She shouldered her way past him and stomped away, her boots clopping across the sidewalk, kicking up sand behind her.
“Steph, don’t—” His voice was lost behind her as she picked up the pace.
Her eyes burned with tears and her vision blurred. She took longer strides, no speed was fast enough to escape.
Jason’s voice called out behind her, propelling her down the street. “Steph!”
Stephanie heard his shout before she felt the ground slide beneath her.
And then her world went black.
Canada (Amazon) – HERE
United States (Amazon) – HERE
More About the Author
ANN BRODEUR is an award-winning novelist who writes inspirational and contemporary romances offering sweet hope and happy endings.
When she’s not reading, writing, chasing after her kids or enjoying long chats with her husband, Ann can be found drinking coffee, that’s been reheated several times throughout the day. She aspires to someday drink a hot beverage in one sitting.
Connect with Ann and Her Work
Email: [email protected]